The first episode does a wonderful job at seeing where the characters ended up after the events of the season four finale and setting the scene for what’s to come; all the while showing that the series hasn’t lost its touch when it comes to having viewers hooked from the very first instalment of the season.
Although it was a quiet episode as per Game of Thrones standards, The Wars to Come did reveal that two fan-favourite characters are on a collision course that might seriously impact the future of Westeros and lead to an alliance that will be hard to reckon with. Let’s not get carried away though, as there’s plenty of catching up to do.
The episode opens with a flashback – a technique completely new in the GoT universe. We see young Cersei roaming the woods and pressuring a witch to reveal her the future, one she’s probably not particularly pleased with. Even from a young age, Cersei was a determined and smug little lady, one that will stop at nothing to get what she believes to be rightfully hers.
Back in present-day Westeros, she and Jaime are mourning the death of their father Tywin in King’s Landing. The queen regent blames Jaime for their father’s death and continues to believe that Tyrion is a monster set out to destroy their family. Even though Jaime does his best to warn her about the dangers to come, she doesn’t seem to be able to get over the fact that he had a part to play in Tyrion’s escape. As people from all over the seven kingdoms come to offer their condolences, she seems more preoccupied with worrying about Margaery’s growing influence over Tommen than with dealing with the fallout of her father’s death.
During the proceedings, a recently turned religious cousin of Cersei, Lancel, approaches her to ask for forgiveness for tempting her into their “unnatural relations.” He also hints that he’s the one who tampered with Robert Baratheon’s wine during the boar hunt, which led to the king’s untimely demise, but Cersei barely flinches. She even ends up laughing off his poor attempts to convince her to turn to religion. Her arrogance might be premature though, as Margaery implies to Loras that she might have found a way to not have Cersei around as her mother-in-law for much more time.
Elsewhere, Tyrion and Varys sailed across the Narrow Sea and ended up in Pentos, where the Imp seems determined to slowly kill himself by drinking copious amounts of wine. Varys has other plans though – he tries to convince the small Lannister to take a trip to Meereen and meet Daenerys Targaryen, whom Varys believes is “stronger than Tommen, but gentler than Stannis; a monarch who can intimidate the high lords and inspire the people. A ruler loved by millions with a powerful army and the right family name.” You have to agree that a sit-down between Tyrion and Dany is something we’d all been longing for, and it will make for an explosive and unmissable episode. It remains to be seen when and if such an encounter will go down.
Dany, on the other hand, is having some trouble of her own. She’s still struggling to keep everyone happy after freeing the slaves of Meereen and she has to make some tough choices moving forward. The Sons of the Harpy killed one of the Unsullied to send a powerful message, and she plans to respond accordingly. Also, her dragons, even the two which she locked down, now seem impossible to control. Luckily, she can shack up with the hunky Daario Naharis to take her mind of her troubles, at least for a little while.
During the episode, we also get a quick glance at Littlefinger and Sansa, who scheme after Lysa Arryn’s death. They leave the sickly Robyn Arryn with Lord Royce and head west, to a land where “even Cersei can’t get her hands” on the Stark progeny. Meanwhile, Brienne and Podrick continue to engage in their odd couple routine, with little to report on that front.
So far, the most gripping series of events seems to be going down at Castle Black. Stannis Baratheon is gearing up to take the North from Roose Bolton, and he’s planning to recruit the surviving Wildlings to fight for him. Stannis sends Jon Snow to convince Mance to surrender, or “bend the knee,” but he’s unsuccessful. Mance refuses to pledge allegiance to Stannis, and Melisandre proceeds to burn the Wildlings’ ruler alive. Luckily (although luckily is a bit of a strong word), Snow sends an arrow through Mance’s chest, saving him from some gruesome suffering. Speaking of Melisandre and Snow, she seems to have her eyes set on the scruffy bastard, although he’s not eager to engage in her flirtation just yet.
The first episode didn’t show us anything about where Arya ended up, who we last saw boarding a ship headed towards Braavos, but there’s plenty of time to revisit that story. After all, season five just started and, as Game of Thrones proved time and time around, the set-up is just as important as the pay-off in the Westeros universe. From the looks of it, we should buckle up. It’s going to be an epic ride!